Filmmaker Q&A: Kris Handwerk

“The Norm Petersen Regatta”Sidney J.P. Hollister encapsulated the “The Norm Peterson Regatta” best: “A tribute to Norm Petersen, a rower at the South End Rowing Club for over 50 years and through his words, a tribute as well, to the kindred spirits, men and women, who find Bay rowing and swimming a joyous and life-affirming experience.”

What was your inspiration for creating the film? My inspiration for creating this film begins with The South End Rowing Club. This club and its community are a tremendous resource and support for those who wish to row and swim in the ever changing and challenging bay conditions. Norm Petersen is a leading spirit and has given so much to his community. I wanted to capture the liveliness and humor he credits as a result of his participation in this community.

What was the most challenging part of creating the film? The most challenging part of creating this film was choosing from the many possible topics that could have been included. The list of directions this film could’ve taken is very long. It includes; rowing, sculling, running, hand ball, bay swimming, tides and currents, weather effects on bay activities, shipping and motorized boating traffic issues, the tumultuous times for women trying to join the “men only” clubs, the personal histories of many of the early members, the club’s history in this city, boat building and some of the renowned boat builders, and the unique environmental characteristics of the San Francisco Bay.

What do you want to impart on your film’s viewers? I would like to impart to everyone that the way to better our community and environment is personal involvement and challenge. Jump in! The SF Bay water might not be warm, but it is full of amazing adventure, marine life, beautiful art, natural sculpture, wonderful sounds, science, and knowledge.

What was the most enjoyable part of creating the film? My favorite part of filmmaking is the collaboration amongst all the participants. The dialogue, critique, problem solving, and serendipitous moments that happen when all the parts come together - that’s magic.

Who (or what) is your inspiration? Who - Judy Irving is an amazing documentary filmmaker, the depth of her storytelling and the clarity she can bring to diverse and complex topics inspires me. And what - there are many people in this community that have said, “Rowing has saved my life!” or “Swimming in the bay saved my life!” I’m inspired to illustrate how, why, and what these statements mean.

How or why did you begin creating ocean-focused films? When I was very young, I wanted to study oceanography. Life took my path elsewhere, but I eventually returned and began creating ocean-focused films when my passion spilled into the ocean: first by surfing, next rowing, and then bay swimming.

Why did you choose to submit your film to the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival? Being a member of the South End Rowing Club makes this a very local community including the Ocean Film Festival. It’s the premier venue for my film’s world premier.

Is this your first time participating in an ocean-focused film festival? Yes!

What was the most memorable moment in creating the film? The most memorable moment has to be the race itself: the excitement building beforehand and throughout the race, the competitive spirit of each participant, and the unknown outcome. It brings out the best of every person and brings the community close together.

Is there anything else that you would like to share? Jump in! Contact one of the San Francisco Bay Area clubs that will help teach the knowledge one needs to safely navigate the challenging bay and ocean activities.